Once more, for 32nd time, the World Festival of Underwater Images was held in Antibes on the French Riviera. During the last sunny days of October (27th –30th ) 18,000 visitors passed the turnstiles and were captivated by the cosy atmosphere and special ambience in this special world of underwater imagery.
Inside the festival halls, entrants from 32 nations were competing for positions and prizes for best photos and movies in a number of different categories. Images in the competition were on display in the very first hall just behind the entrance where they were impossible to miss.
From Thursday through Saturday, pre-selected movies were screened in several movie theatres inside the festival compound. The showing went on non-stop from 9 am to 11 pm, in the three projection halls making it necessary to study the program first and select some according to interests and favourite topics.
In the hallways, it was easy to meet celebrities like Daniel “Mr President” Mercier, Bill Todd (NASA trainer), Jean-Michel Cousteau from “Oceans Futures”, Kurt Amsler (the photographer), Loïc Leferme (free diver champions) and Albert Falco, Denis Martin-Laval and André Laban from the Calypso. They were all intensely busy, but also always ready and happy to have a short chat with anybody.
The Antibes show is both a very public event with open access to everyone with an interest in the subject and a lowkey professional gathering where photographers, editors, filmmakers, magazine, painters and what not meet and do trade.
Unnoticed by the average guests this is also very much a networking event that most of the professionals enjoy being a far cry from the intense and stressful major dive shows elsewhere.
Here, any visitor has a chance to talk and exchange viewpoints with their favourite underwater photographer. First of all, when you’re in Antibes, you’re a sea lover among others and you can feel that you belong to a family, rather than just being another face in the crowd. This is what makes the Antibes-festival so special. And like most families, when the clock gets close to 6 pm, many exhibitors are inviting their friends, neighbours, even competitors for an informal drink at their booth.
A big ceremony takes place on Saturday night, The Award Ceremony. The competitors or their representative, festival guests, VIP, journalists, gather in the Grand Theatre in tense anticipation waiting for the verdicts. There are many different categories: Documentary, fiction, black and white pictures, macro, underwater modelling, press articles, websites, music and anyone can participate.
Following the event, Daniel Mercier and his team will show the best films and pictures at other events all around the world. You can contact the Festival organisation if you want them to come to your city.
There are many other surprises at the show, but to discover what they are you must come to the World Festival of Underwater Images in 2006.